The objective of this study was to determine whether centrally administered leptin decreased liver and adipose SCD1 expression or adipose resistin expression, and whether these effects were mediated by central melanocortin receptors. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were injected into the lateral cerebral ventricle (i.c.v.) once daily for 4 days with artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF, 5 microl), leptin (10 microg) or MTII (0.1 nmol); two other groups were pretreated icv with the melanocortin antagonist, SHU9119 (1.0 nmol), followed by leptin or MTII. Epididymal and inguinal adipose tissue and liver were collected after rats were killed and mRNA expression of SCD1 and resistin was measured. Both leptin and MTII reduced SCD1 expression and pretreatment with SHU9119 reversed their effects. Neither leptin nor MTII affected resistin expression, but it was increased by SHU9119. These results show that CNS melanocortin receptors are likely mediators of leptin's effects on SCD1 expression in liver and adipose tissue, The findings were inconclusive concerning the effects of leptin and melanocortins on adipose resistin expression.